Rapper and singer Lil Nas X is launching a controversial pair of "Satan Shoes" featuring a bronze pentagram, an inverted cross and a drop of real human blood.
The black and red sneakers, part of a collaboration between Lil Nas X and New York-based art collective MSCHF, were made using Nike Air Max 97s, though the sportswear brand has distanced itself from the design.
In an emailed statement to CNN, Nike said it was not involved in creating the modified sneakers. "We do not have a relationship with Lil Nas or MSCHF," the company said. "Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them."
Launching as a limited-edition "drop" of 666 pairs, each shoe's air bubble sole contains 60 cubic centimeters (2.03 fluid ounces) of red ink and "one drop" of human blood, according to MSCHF. They are priced at $1,018 a pair, a reference to the Bible passage Luke 10:18 that reads: "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."
A MSCHF spokesperson said the blood had been provided by members of the art collective, adding: "We love to sacrifice for our art." The group also confirmed to CNN that Nike was "not involved in this in any capacity."
The shoes sparked outrage online over the weekend, and attracted criticism from a number of high-profile political and religious figures, including South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and the evangelical pastor Mark Burns. The latter described the sneakers in a tweet as "evil" and "heresy." Some fans of the "Old Town Road" rapper, meanwhile, tweeted their support and desire to own a pair.
In response, Lil Nas X (whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill), posted a video to his official YouTube account titled "Lil Nas X Apologizes for Satan Shoe," which has now been viewed over 1.8 million times. But after a few seconds, the apparent apology cuts to a scene from his new music video, "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," showing him dancing provocatively with a devil character. The rapper is then pictured snapping the devil's neck, before removing his horned crown and assuming it himself.
MSCHF is known for its irreverent "drops," a series of tongue-in-cheek art projects unveiled once every two weeks. In 2019, the collective released limited edition "Jesus Shoes" -- also made from Nike Air Max 97 sneakers -- which featured a steel crucifix and "holy water" sourced from the Jordan River.
Other drops have seen the collective sell a laptop installed with some of the world's most dangerous computer viruses for over $1.3 million. In February, meanwhile, the group ripped apart four Hermès Birkin bags in order to create a collection of sandals priced between $34,000 and $76,000.